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Early Childhood Education: Maryland Seen as a Leader

PHOTO: Dr. Nancy Grasmick.
PHOTO: Dr. Nancy Grasmick.
October 11, 2012

BALTIMORE - A former Maryland state superintendent of schools still is carrying the banner for the state's commitment to high-quality, early childhood education.

Dr. Nancy Grasmick ended her term a little more than a year ago, and says it's gratifying to see that recently New Jersey and Virginia have been eying Maryland's programs. Her support of the cause is no secret; she made this bold statement when she was in office, and stands by it today.

"I would eliminate the senior year of high school and devote all of those dollars to early childhood education."

The most impressive fact, Grasmick says, is that 90 percent of brain growth occurs before age 5, and when young children receive the nurturing care and stimulating environments and experiences in order to support the explosion of development, it's evident in the years to follow.

"That progress that we saw early on through the investment is enabling those children to be competitive with all other children and to really continue to make progress."

With talk of state and federal budget cuts affecting early childhood programs, Grasmick points to the long-term budget impacts of ignoring early education.

"Children who don't begin school with those skill-sets are children who drop out at ninth or 10th grade. And today, in our competitive world, without a high school diploma, you're not going to be able to get a job."

Grasmick says her confidence in focusing on the early years is backed by years and volumes of research that outline what high-quality care looks like, and how its benefits are long-lasting.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD